The Story of Rainbow’s “Man on the Silver Mountain”

Each and every song has its own story and its own part in the history of music. For instance, when we talk about the history of hard rock and heavy metal, there’s a song that momentarily comes to our minds as one of the most notable classics in the genre – a song that defined rock music with its signature guitar riffs and evocative, poetic and mythical lyrics – “The Man on the Silver Mountain” by Rainbow.

In 1975, the legendary Ritchie Blackmore announced his departure from Deep Purple – a band that is considered to be one of the finest and most innovative pioneers of hard rock. The next step of his career was as important and significant as his first – Rainbow debuted the same year he quit Deep Purple with an album that brought nothing but triumph and success to him and his band mates.

“Man on the Silver Mountain” was the first ever single by Rainbow from their first album – “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow”. It was written and produced by Mr. Blackmore himself, in collaboration with Rainbow’s vocalist – Ronnie James Dio. The song perfectly illustrates the creative and progressive vision, “colorful” ideas and fantasy/heroic lyrical approach Blackmore had in mind for Rainbow. All those elements, brilliantly mixed together, led to the song becoming a sensational hit. After its release, it became clear that Rainbow were a very strong force, ready to stay and make a huge impact. Who knew that this impact can be felt even today – in 2016!?

Back to the song itself, it lasts for 4:38 minutes and if we have to attach a specific genre to it, I would personally say hard rock and (early) heavy metal. Just like every other songs from this album, “The Man on the Silver Mountain” was recorded at Musicland Studios, Munich in January and February, 1975. Interesting fact, the whole project, including the song, was supposed to be a solo album of Ritchie Blackmore; however it eventually ended up as a new band. Though, to me personally, it was not Ritchie that got the most out of it, but rather Dio – his popularity and fan base reached the sky and he became one of the most influential and critically-acclaimed frontmen of all time. This is not a publication about Ritchie and the history of Rainbow, however I’m sure most of you guys, first think of Dio when you hear any Rainbow song…am I right? Later on, Ritchie was joking that this album should’ve been named “”Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio’s Rainbow”. (I completely agree…)

Furthermore, I have to say a few more things regarding the exceptional lyrics – which are the essence of the songs, in my opinion. According to Dio himself, the song is “a semi-religious one, a man on the silver mountain is a kind of God figure everyone is crying out to”. In order to sing a song about a mythical-powerful-fantasy-God figure, you need to have the vocal range and strength of Ronnie James Dio, which in my opinion no one has…So to sum up, no one else can actually sing this song as well as him. Back to the lyrics, they are indeed very poetic, imaginative and possess a special rhythm and beauty. Extremely unconventional, progressive and epic, the lyrics of the song marked the beginning of a new idea of hard rock music in the mid-70s. I’m not going to get into detail about Dio or Ritchie’s religious views and them singing about a God-like creature because in this case I believe it’s a bit irrelevant. Each and every one of us can interpret it differently, based on personal reasons – however we should all agree that it’s quite heroic and very dramatic.

Lyrics:

“Man on the Silver Mountain”

I’m a wheel, I’m a wheel
I can roll, I can feel
And you can’t stop me turning

Cause I’m the sun, I’m the sun
I can move, I can run
But you’ll never stop me burning

Come down with fire
Lift my spirit higher
Someone’s screaming my name
Come and make me holy again

I’m the man on the silver mountain
I’m the man on the silver mountain

I’m the day, I’m the day
I can show you the way
And look, I’m right beside you

I’m the night, I’m the night
I’m the dark and the light
With eyes that see inside you

Come down with fire
Lift my spirit higher
Someone’s screaming my name
Come and make me holy again

I’m the man on the silver mountain
I’m the man on the silver mountain

Come down with fire
And lift my spirit higher
Someone’s screaming my name
Come and make me holy again

Well, I can help you, you know I can

I’m the man on the silver mountain
I’m the man on the silver mountain

Just look at me and listen
I’m the man, the man, give you my hand
I’m the man on the silver mountain

Come down with fire
And lift your spirit higher
I’m the man on the mountain
The man on the silver mountain
I’m the night, the light
The black and the white
The man on the silver mountain

I wanted to finish this song appreciation post with a few interesting facts about the song itself. Firstly, this album is Dio’s most favourite Rainbow album and judging by the passion and energy he put each time he was singing this song, I may conclude that this was also his favourite Rainbow song. Maybe it’s just me, however his voice cannot be more perfect for this song and to me, this will forever be HIS song. I’ve listened to all the albums and projects of Rainbow, during Ronnie’s days, as well as when he formed DIO and no other song fits him that perfectly. It even followed him to his grave – when he was buried in Los Angeles in 2010, the words “The man on the silver mountain Ronnie James Dio” were carved on his tombstone.

The song is a true masterpiece and it has everything – perfect guitar riffs, exceptional vocal delivery and most importantly – it left a mark on the music world.

Have a listen! It deserves it!

Also, check out these amazing live performances of the song!

Credits:
“The Man on the Silver Mountain” lyrics by Rainbow, retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com
“The Man on the Silver Mountain” by Rainbow, retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.

Cheers~

 

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